More on Utah decision re: universities
Inside Higher Education of course treats it as Gun Rights vs. College Rights. I didn't know taxpayer-financed institutions had "rights" as against their legislatures. It also gives some background. Apparently the U. of Utah first filed a federal suit, and the federal judge ordered them to settle the state law questions in state court.
I'd think the federal questions (apparently freedom of speech, etc.) are losers.
1. The statute has nothing to do with freedom of speech. We can talk about "academic freedom," but I can't see how that extends to "a university can make any rules on student conduct it wants, regardless of the legislature."
2. I can't see how a government institution has "rights." An individual employed by it has rights, but I can't see how the institution does.
3. The 14th Amendment (which is the key here, since it is what binds the States) says no "person" shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
Is a University, a subset of government, a "person"? The Supremes long ago (and perhaps erroneously) ruled that a corporation was a "person." I doubt that a state-funded university is.
And how is it deprived of life, liberty, or property by the law? In the average situation, a person can make that claim, because if he disobeys a statute he is incarcerated or fined.
UPDATE: Don Kate's take on the article is in extended remarks below.
Don Kates emails:
It apparently contains statements by supposed experts asserting that this ruling is a threat to university independence and of dubious validity. If so, this is yet another sample of the mindless emotionalism which cripples the analytic powers of many intellectuals when the topic of guns arises. In fact, it is virtually self-evident that the state legislature is free to make, and enforce on every institution of state government, the judgment that public and individual safety would be advanced by allowing qualified individuals to carry guns. By the same token the legislature is equally free to make and enforce on state universities decisions such as:
(a) the annual salary of the university president;
(b) that every state building, including state university buildings, should have various safety features as welll as features allowing access by the handicapped;
(c) that the state university shall offer a set of ROTC courses;
(d) forbidding smoking in every state building, including state university buildings,
(e) that every state institution, including the state university, shall follow certain procedures in hiring and promoting employees
etc., etc., etc.
Any and all of such decisions may be highly controversial as to its wisdom. But no serious issue can arise as to whether the Legislature has authority to make the decision and require the university to obey.